2015 Summer Arts Preview | Theater | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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2015 Summer Arts Preview 

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You're a longtime repeat performer at Mountain Jam. For you as an artist, what is it that most distinguishes Mountain Jam from other music festivals?

In addition to the fact that we hand-pick the artists and bands to create a "Mountain Jam vibe," it's a beautiful, unique location and we've learned from each year how to make it more "fan-friendly." For example, several years ago we put the two stages side by side, sharing production. This way, the fans didn't have to walk back and forth between stages.

In what ways would you say the festival has changed and grown since you co-founded it with WDST in 2005? Any new features this year?

It has grown organically. It is important to us that we keep the spirit of the original concept, but it is also important to expand the musical direction each year. This includes adding acts that are appealing to potential new "Mountain Jammers."

What favorite memories do you have of past Mountain Jams? Any specific odd, special, or otherwise interesting anecdotes that come to mind?

Playing for Levon Helm's 70th birthday was a highlight for me—having Donald Fagen, Steve Earle, Alison Kraus, Ray LaMontagne, and others on stage for that made for a magical evening. Also, playing with the Allman Brothers and Phil Lesh and Friends were both great moments. 

Which acts are you most looking forward to sharing the stage with at this year's festival? Anyone that's new to you or any faves you haven't seen play before, and why does their music appeal to you?

I'm really excited to have Railroad Earth there this year. We just finished recording an album together that I'm very proud of, and I'm looking forward to hearing them and to playing as much music together as our schedules will permit. Also psyched that we have Robert Plant, the Black Keys, and the Alabama Shakes—all for the first time. Mountainjam.com

Theater


The 2011 production of “Hair” at the Woodstock Playhouse. - MATTHEW WRIGHT OF FIG TREE PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Matthew Wright of Fig Tree Photography
  • The 2011 production of “Hair” at the Woodstock Playhouse.

Woodstock Playhouse

On June 30, 1938, the Woodstock Playhouse opened with a production of (the now-forgotten) "Yes, My Darling Daughter." For the next 50 years, the Playhouse featured some big names in its summer stock season, including Lillian Gish, Karl Malden, Chevy Chase, and Diane Keaton. Then, just months shy of it's 50th anniversary, the theater burned down in 1988. In June of 2011, the playhouse re-opened as a fully enclosed, climate-controlled venue with a performance of "A Chorus Line." This season summer festival of theater features the Tony award-winning "Spring Awakening" (6/18-28), the adorable Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (7/9-7/19), the ingenious comedy romp "The Musical Murders of 1940," Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma" (7/30-8/9), and Stephen Sondheim's devilishly tuneful "Sweeney Todd" (8/13-23). Woodstockplayhouse.org

click to enlarge Pam Tanowitz Dance will perform as part of the 2015 Bard Summerscape. - CHRISTOPHER DUGGAN
  • Christopher Duggan
  • Pam Tanowitz Dance will perform as part of the 2015 Bard Summerscape.
Bard SummerScape

An outgrowth of the longstanding Bard Music Festival, Bard SummerScape is now in its 13th season of presenting world-class music, theater, dance, opera, and cabaret for eight weeks each summer. Mexican modernist composer Carlos Chávez (1899-1978) is the focus of this year's music festival, with performances of Chávez's work and that of his contemporaries by the American Symphony Orchestra. The rarely seen English-language opera "The Wreckers," by Ethel Smyth, about a village on the English seaside that makes its living by scavenging the remains of downed ships, will be staged. Other highlights include Pam Tanowitz Dance & Flux Quartet, director Daniel Fish's reimagination of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma," and Fernando Rubio's dreamlike installation/performance "Everything by My Side." And don't forget the Spiegeltent, that mirrored hall of entertainment hosted by cabaret legend Justin Vivian Bond. Highlights include performances by Kate Pierson, Martha Wainwright, Alan Cumming (probably already sold out, sorry), and the Wau Wau Sisters. Fishercenter.bard.edu

Powerhouse Theater

Vassar College and New York Stage and Film present another season of Powerhouse Theater, a season-long introduction of newly developed theatrical works on the Vassar campus in Poughkeepsie from July 1 to August 2. Nearly 250 professional artists and 50 apprentices will perform 25 brand new productions by both veterans and new additions to the world of theater. Ayad Akhtar and Anna Ziegler are presenting new works, and Powerhouse will be introducing theater-scene breakouts Michael John LaChiusa, Stephen Trask, Colman Domingo, and more. Of special note: "Noir," the latest collaboration between Kyle Jarrow and Duncan Sheik ("Spring Awakening"), a thriller/love story mash-up musical; and "Desire," six new plays based on stories by Tennessee Williams by dramaturgical heavyweights Elizabeth Egloff, Marcus Gardely, Rebecca Gilman, David Grimm, John Guare, and Beth Henley. The Powerhouse Theater acts as a stage to introduce new productions, producers, and players to the American theater scene through performances, readings, and workshops. Powerhouse.vassar.edu

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